A week or so ago I received an email from a teacher asking about getting cable TV in the classrooms. This is perhaps one of the few school districts that did not run coax cable back in the past 20 years. Not too long after I started here, we ran a survey to see what the cost would be to wire up the buildings, and the costs were higher than we were willing to go. We have the one cable TV drop per building given to us by the local cable company, but that is it. Is this a concept we need to reconsider, or is the idea of cable in the classroom one that is no longer relevant?
I taught in a couple of “Channel One” schools during my carrier, if you do not know, Channel One will give you TVs and wire up your building in exchange for them showing a news cast with advertising to all students every day. Not a bad deal, having a captive audience for advertisers is great for Channel One, but taking time out of the school day for ads is a decision I do not want to make. We actually did some light investigation of Channel One here last year, but could not make it work with our schedule and we would not get a TV in each classroom.
As has been stated in this blog previously, we have a fairly robust Internet connection, and with each classroom having a SmartBoard with projector, we can access network-based content at any time to share with our students. So is having Cable in the classroom necessary any more?
How is cable used in classrooms? Due to the way programs are scheduled on TV, it is tough to arrange your time so that a program that may be relevant will be on when it is needed. It is true that the district can record shows for teachers to show, but we have a service from our BOCES that does this, or we could record from our drops in the building. When I was teaching weather in Earth Science, I sometimes had the weather channel on during class to show stuff, which was useful, but can now be more effectively done with various Internet sites. To tell the truth, the things that the TV was used for more than anything was to watch early round NCAA games, checking news and sports before school, and on occasion something school related. The five men that taught in one school would all meet in one classroom during lunch where we would watch Sports Center or Jerry Springer. Sometimes toward the end of class we would turn on MTV so that the students would have music to do labs or write-ups to (Back when MTV had music).
There are some nice things you can do with cable in the building, such as a student TV broadcast, but this can be done on the network. Really anything that can be done with the cable can now be done better with the Internet. So where does this leave us? We don’t need to rip out cables, how could we watch NCAA games? But I really don’t think we need to think about new installs for Cable in the Classroom.